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Make Change: A Message That Resonates at the 6th Annual MBA Diversity and Inclusion Case Competition

black business man talking smiling in workplace

This year’s 6th Annual Diversity and Inclusion MBA Case Competition hosted at the Telfer School came to a close on March 5th, where 10 teams competed against one another. Held in close partnership with Export Development Canada (EDC), Deloitte and Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), the competition lasted over the course of 2 weeks, where participants had to examine emerging challenges and propose solutions pertaining to an assigned case on this year’s theme: Systemic Anti-Black Racism in the Canadian Workplace.

zoom screenshot competitionThroughout these two weeks, participants were periodically invited to attend interactive sessions with the competition founding The Deloitte Greenhouse team kicked off the opening day of the competition with an Interactive Live Session, adapted to the case topic, to engage participants intellectually, emotionally and physically and set them up for success in cracking this year’s case.

A week later and after submitting each of their executive summaries on the case subject, the teams were invited to a Diversity Experts Session hosted by EDC, an organization that leads by example when it comes to fostering an inclusive culture.

It was then showtime as the second phase of the competition took place when participants had to put together a video presentation. Each presentation would present the teams’ innovative ideas to tackle this important challenge of inclusivity in the workplace, in hopes to convince the expert panel of judges on the creativity, feasibility and pertinence of their solutions on:

How Canadian corporations can create an environment in which employees can thrive and reach the following targets:

• 3.5% of executive and board roles being held by Black leaders by 2025; and,

• at least 5% of new hires being from the Black community by 2025.

A Message of Fostering Change

BlackNorth Initiative speakersAs the case competition neared the end for another year, the closing remarks resonated with the attendees during the heartfelt speeches from this year’s year’s special guests from the The BlackNorth Initiative: the Executive Director, Dahabo Ahmed-Omer, and the Executive Chairman and Founder, Dr. Wesley J. Hall. The case question was directly inspired by The BlackNorth Initative pledge to end anti-black systematic racism.

“Bring us to a place where Black Canadian can prosper and are given an equality of chances,” said Ahmed-Omer, hopeful that a competition like the Diversity and Inclusion MBA Case Competition can help shape the roles of our future leaders.

Ahmed-Omer added her thoughts on systemic anti-black racism in the Canadian workplace: “In order for us to see the problem, we need to acknowledge it, for all of us to act on it."

From virtual to international

In the midst of the current pandemic, the sixth edition of the competition went online, opening the gates to yet another first for the competition: the world. This year’s case competition welcomed 10 MBA teams, including 8 teams from across Canada and 2 international teams: FIA Business School from Brazil and Barna Management School from the Dominican Republic. Even though the case portrayed a Canadian reality, all could agree issues around anti-black racism in the workplace are global and the judges all agreed on the overall quality of the strategies and presentations offered by all participating schools. Our Telfer Nation representatives, Sinatrio Raharjo, Krishna Venkatasubramanian, Roxy Lu and Sushant Garg, better known by their collective pseudonym Awesome Possum during the competition, was led by Coach Sylvie Albert, Lead of Internationalization and New Initiatives at the University of Ottawa.

Simon Fraser - Beedie School of business studentsAt the end, Beedie School of Business of Simon Fraser University (Team InCahoots) brought home first place with a solution that was described by the judges as a compelling case for an important issue: “They showed a willingness to take a step ahead in developing a solution to restrict current gaps in the workplace, while presenting a strategy not just based on subsidies solutions, but filled with bold ideas.” stated Justine Hendricks, Senior Vice President of Sustainable Business & Enablement at EDC. Hendricks presented a shared $5,000 prize to Team InCahoots composed of Bessie Chow, Kelly Woo, Viksit Jain, Raymond So and Coach Shelley Graham.


1st Place - $5,000 Beedie School of Business - Simon Fraser University
2nd Place - $2,500 John Molson School of Business - Concordia University
3rd Place - $1,250 DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University

The steering committee is already planning the 7th edition of the event, which will take place in early 2022. Any organization with an interest in diversity and inclusion issues and topics is invited to contact the Telfer Graduate Programs Office to discuss possible participation in next year’s competition at:

About the Author

Laurent Lavallée a travaillé à titre de coordonnateur marketing au sein de l'équipe de Marketing de l'École de gestion Telfer de 2019 à 2022.<br/><br/>Laurent Lavallée worked as Marketing Coordinator for the Telfer School of Management's Marketing team from 2019 to 2022.